The Buffalo school desegregation case had many players, and the drama did not begin with the 1972 lawsuit. The widespread separation of black and white children in Buffalo schools had been an issue with the Board of Education and the Buffalo community at least as far back as 1963. There had been some halting steps toward desegregation before the lawsuit. In fact, School Board minutes show discussions as far back as 1958.
Many deserve credit for the way it all worked out. In a list that cannot be complete, these people -- living and deceased -- should be mentioned:
John T. Curtin: The federal judge had the case from start to finish, presiding with great patience and wisdom. Buffalo is fortunate that a judge of his quality handled a case that had such great community consequences.
Eugene T. Reville, school superintendent, and Joseph Murray, his assistant: With verve and understanding, they developed the magnet-school plan and made it work without disruption. They made a great team.
Florence Baugh, president of the Board of Education: A woman of charm and determination, she led her colleagues on the desegregation path.
Dr. Lydia T. Wright: As the first black member of the Board of Education, she was an early -- and often lonely -- voice for desegregation and proposed a plan that foreshadowed the magnet schools.
Civil rights leaders, particularly Raphael DuBard, Joseph Easley, Frank Mesiah and Daniel Acker: DuBard and Easley, leaders of the Buffalo Branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, led a march in heavy rain in March 1964, chanting for "freedom" in a protest of segregation. It was only one of the memorable efforts of the NAACP and black leadership.
Norman Goldfarb: He was a plaintiff in the case but, more than that, his research and dogged advocacy brought it to life. Later, after suffering a heart attack, Goldfarb said the main thing that kept him alive was to see how the case turned out. He died in 1983, knowing it had gone well.
George K. Arthur, now retired Common Council president: As the Ellicott District Council representative in 1972, he was the lead plaintiff. He continued to support the goals of the case after winning citywide office.
Arthur O. Eve, now deputy majority leader of the State Assembly: Throughout his Albany tenure, he has assisted Buffalo schools in getting state funds essential to the program's success. A friend in the Capitol is always valuable.